Code of the District of Columbia

§ 16–3902. Commencement of action; form of statement; preparation by clerk; notice and service; costs; default; memorandum to plaintiff.

(a) Actions shall be commenced in the Small Claims and Conciliation Branch by the filing of a statement of claim, in concise form and free of technicalities. The plaintiff or his agent shall verify the statement of claim by oath or affirmation in the form herein provided, or its equivalent, and shall affix his signature thereto. The clerk of the Branch shall, at the request of an individual, prepare the statement of claim and other papers required to be filed in an action in the Branch, but his services are not available to a corporation, partnership, or association, in the preparation of the statements or other papers. A copy of the statement of claim and verification shall be made a part of the notice to be served upon the defendant named therein. The mode of service shall be by the United States marshal, as provided by law, or by registered mail or by certified mail with return receipt, or by a person not a party to or otherwise interested in the action especially authorized by the Clerk of the Small Claims and Conciliation Branch or appointed by the judge for that purpose.

(b) When notice is to be served by registered mail or by certified mail, the clerk shall inclose a copy of the statement of claim, verification, and notice in an envelope addressed to the defendant, prepay the postage with funds obtained from plaintiff, and mail the papers forthwith, noting on the records the day and hour of mailing. When the receipt is returned, the clerk shall attach it to the original statement of claim, and it constitutes prima facie evidence of service upon the defendant.

(c) When notice is served by a private individual, as provided by subsection (a) of this section, he shall make proof of service by affidavit before the clerk, showing the time and place of the service.

(d) When notice is served by the marshal, or by registered mail or by certified mail, the actual cost of service is taxable as costs. When notice is served by an individual, the cost of service, if any, is not taxable as costs.

(e) The statement of claim, verification, and notice shall be in the following or equivalent form:


(Location of room in (Address of

courthouse) court)

Washington, D.C.




Address No. _______





(Here the plaintiff, or at his request the clerk, will insert a statement of the plaintiff’s claim, and the original, to be filed with the clerk, may, if action is on a contract, express or implied, be verified by the plaintiff or his agent, as follows:)

District of Columbia,ss:

____________ being first duly sworn on oath says the foregoing is a just and true statement of the amount owing by defendant to plaintiff, exclusive of all set-offs and just grounds of defense.


Plaintiff (or agent)

Subscribed and sworn to before me this ______ days of _______, 19__.


Clerk (or notary public)


To: ____________



Home address


Business address

You are hereby notified that ____________ has made a claim and is requesting judgment against you in the sum of _______ dollars ($__), as shown by the foregoing statement. The Court will hold a hearing upon this claim on ____________ at __m. in the Small Claims and Conciliation Branch (address of Court).

You are required to be present at the hearing in order to avoid a judgment by default.

If you have witnesses, books, receipts, or other writings bearing on this claim, you should bring them with you at the time of the hearing.

If you wish to have witnesses summoned, see the clerk at once for assistance.

If you admit the claim, but desire additional time to pay, you must come to the hearing in person and state the circumstances to the court.

You may come with or without an attorney.

[seal] __________________

Clerk of the Small Claims and

Conciliation Branch, Superior Court of the District of Columbia

(f) The foregoing verification entitles the plaintiff to a judgment by default, without further proof, upon failure of defendant to appear, if the claim of the plaintiff is for a liquidated amount. If the amount is unliquidated, the plaintiff shall be required to present proof of his claim.

(g) The clerk shall furnish the plaintiff with a memorandum of the day and hour set for the hearing, not less than 5 nor more than 30 days from the date of the filing of the action. Where, in a case controlled by another statute, a greater or lesser time for hearing is specified by the other statute, that specified time is controlling. All actions filed in the Branch shall be made returnable therein.

(h) Where the defendant is the District of Columbia or an officer or agency thereof, the Clerk shall schedule the hearing for a day that is not less than 30 days from the date of the filing of the action, service of a copy of the action on the Corporation Counsel to be completed within 15 days of filing.